Congolese Warlord Convicted of Using Child Soldiers by International Criminal Court

After 10 years, the international war crimes court at The Hague issued its first ruling Wednesday, convicting a Congolese warlord of deploying child soldiers during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long bloody conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, 51, with three counts of war crimes. Now he faces the possibility of life in prison. “The chamber concludes that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is guilty of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years,” ICC Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford said as he read the judgment issued by the three-judge panel, Reuters reports. Lubanga “was essential to a common plan to conscript and enlist girls and boys below the age of 15.”

Lubanga may appeal the conviction within 30 days.

The Trouble With Trying Children as Adults

There are numerous issues surrounding trying juveniles as adults – particularly in cases where the possibility of life without parole exists. The ideas that shaped juvenile justice for over a hundred years have been degraded and attacked, particularly in state government, with a view that juveniles deserve harsher punishment. These ideas fit the overarching “tough on crime” view of many politicians (and often their constituents). But does this view reflect reality, or is it a political convenience that preys on the pain of victims and the fear of the public?